Sunday, 26 January 2014

Unexpected Find - Military Records

Today I was writing up a tidbit on my great-great Uncle Hasting, to celebrate his birthday (January 26, 1897).  Among the records I had already had on file for him was his Attestation Papers which he'd signed on May 14, 1918.  The papers give a wealth of information including his occupation, a physical description of him at the time, as well as confirming his mother's name and address.

But it's the header that led me to much more:

2nd M D    1st Depot Battalion.   1st C.O.R. Regiment

The MD refers to Military Division.  The next indicates the Battalion he was with.  And finally, 1st C.O.R. Regiment.  That stands for 1st Central Ontario Regiment.

I knew from an article written about Uncle Hasting in a newsletter in 1962 that he'd served with the 4th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  Once I'd discovered that he'd been assigned to the 1st COR initially, I managed to track down that he was almost immediately added to the backup troops heading overseas to join the 4th.  But where did he go and when ?

I lucked out on  This site has been a wealth of unexpected information over the past few years, and today was no different.  On that site I discovered the "Records of the Fourth Canadian Infantry Battalion", compiled by Captain W.L. Gibson, paymaster and historian of the Battalion, and published by The Maclean Publishing Company in Toronto in 1924.

A search through those records told me that Hasting was assigned to the 4th on May 14, 1918 as a member of the 1st C.O.R., and that he was T.O.S. (i.e. "taken on strength", or joined the Battalion in person) on October 9, 1918 in the north of France.  It continues to tell us the Battalion's movements throughout France, and then how the boys headed to Southhampton, boarded the S.S. Olympic and landed at Halifax on April 15, 1919.   They then headed to Toronto where the unit was disbanded on April 23, 1919, and according to those records, Hasting returned to Markstay, Ontario.  It also confirms that he was not wounded during his time served.

What more can I take from this information ?  If I wanted to, I could search for military photos of the Battalion at any point along their route in France; capture photos of the SS Olympic, perhaps even interior shots that would show how the troops were treated during their voyage home.  I could search newspaper archives to see if there was more information about the Battalion either during the war, or upon their arrival in Halifax or Toronto.   Even a simple search for military medals, uniforms, etc., would fill out even more information about his time serving our country. 

One unexpected find, but vast potential for adding life and spark to a story.

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